Hope College is either the story or a part of the story behind three of the 16 State History Awards being presented later this month by the Historical Society of Michigan.

The recipients include the anniversary history book “Hope College at 150,” published by the college’s Van Raalte Press, with Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis, who directs Hope’s A.C. Van Raalte Institute, as primary author and editor; the article “Keep ‘Em Fighting: Chris-Craft’s Contribution to WWII,” by Hope archivist Geoffrey Reynolds, published in Michigan History Magazine; and independent filmmaker and former faculty member Dr. David Schock, for his documentary “A.J. Muste: Radical for Peace/Finding True North,” about a renowned peace activist who was a 1905 Hope graduate.

The annual awards are the highest recognition presented by the Historical Society of Michigan, and honor individuals or organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the appreciation, collection, preservation and/or promotion of state and local history.  They are presented during the society’s annual Michigan History Conference, which is being held this year in Ludington on Sept. 27-29. 

“Hope College at 150,” subtitled “Anchored in Faith, Educating for Leadership and Service in a Global Society” and published in April, is being honored in the “Books: Private Printing” category.  Totaling 1,410 pages in two volumes, the publication carries the college’s story from its chartering in 1866 through its recent sesquicentennial, but some parts of the story extend well beyond 2016.  It is the first comprehensive history of the college since the centennial book “A Century of Hope.”

To provide an accessible narrative as well as a lasting resource for researchers, the volumes are organized into nine thematic chapters complemented by 12 detailed appendices, and illustrated with hundreds of photographs, most in color.

The thematic chapters cover the academic program, architecture, finances, sports, student life, diversity and inclusion, the alumni association, and the relationship between the college and the Reformed Church in America.  The 305-page chapter on architecture is exceptionally valuable, with comprehensive entries and more than 150 photographs, almost all in color.  The appendices include a listing of all the faculty (and their progress through the academic ranks), profiles of presidents and senior leaders, a history of all the student organizations, 150 years of enrollment and financial data, lists of endowed professorships, notable alumni, honorary degree and other award recipients, college songs and strategic plans.  In addition, the name index includes some 6,000 names, and the subject index runs to 60 pages.

In addition to his role with the Van Raalte Institute, Nyenhuis is provost emeritus of Hope, where he is also professor emeritus of classics.  The book’s other authors include current and former faculty and staff as well as alumni, all with long associations with Hope.  They are:  Michael J. Douma, who is an assistant research professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and as a Hope student had worked for the college’s Joint Archives of Holland; Alfredo M. Gonzales, who is associate provost emeritus and dean emeritus of international and multicultural education at Hope; John E. Jobson, who is associate dean of students at Hope; James C. Kennedy, who is dean of University College at the University of Utrecht (the Netherlands), honorary research fellow at the Van Raalte Institute, and a former associate professor of history at Hope; Thomas L. Renner, who is the retired associate vice president for public and community relations at Hope, where he was also the long-time sports-information director and Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association publicist; Robert P. Swierenga, who is the Albertus C. Van Raalte Research Professor at the Van Raalte Institute and a professor emeritus of history at Kent State University; Scott Travis, who is executive director of alumni engagement at Hope; and Dennis N. Voskuil, who in addition to being the college’s 13th president from 2017 through 2019 and former director of the Van Raalte Institute, is the Marvin and Jerene DeWitt Professor Emeritus of Church History and former president of Western Theological Seminary, as well as a former member of the Hope religion faculty.

Additional research for the list of notable alumni in appendix 8 was conducted by Elton J. Bruins, who is the Philip Phelps Jr. Research Professor Emeritus and founding director emeritus of the Van Raalte Institute, and the Evert J. and Hattie E. Blekkink Professor Emeritus of Religion at Hope; and Mackenzie Schumborg, who worked on appendix 9 (student life) as a Hope student.  The editorial associate and copy editor was JoHannah Smith, who is also office manager of the Van Raalte Institute; custom-created maps were by Mark Cook, who is auxiliary enterprise project manager at Hope and retired as manager of the college’s bookstore; layout and design were by Russell L. Gasero, archivist of the Reformed Church in America; and the cover design was by Willem Mineur.

“Hope College at 150: Anchored in Faith, Educating for Leadership and Service in a Global Society” costs $100.  Copies are available at the Hope College Bookstore, which is on the lower level of the DeWitt Center, which is located at 141 E. 12th St., facing Columbia Avenue between 10th and 13th streets, and can be visited online at bookstore.hope.edu. 

“Keep ‘Em Fighting: Chris-Craft’s Contribution to WWII” is being honored as the “Best Article in Michigan History Magazine,” and was the July/August 2019 cover story.  As described by the Historical Society of Michigan: “Before the war, Chris-Craft factories were famous for their high-quality wooden pleasure boats.  After Pearl Harbor, those factories turned out thousands of military watercraft, some of which were the first Allied landing craft to touch the sands of Normandy on D-Day.”

Reynolds is the Mary Riepma Ross Director of the Joint Archives of Holland at Hope College, where he also holds an appointment as a professor.  His scholarly interests include Michigan’s boat-building industry in particular, and his publications include the book “From Craft to Industry: The Boat Builders of Holland, Michigan” 

Schock is being honored in the “Media” category for “A.J. Muste: Radical for Peace/Finding True North.”

Abraham Johannes Muste (1885-1967) was born in the Netherlands and grew up in Grand Rapids.  An outstanding student at Hope, he edited the campus newspaper, captained the man’s basketball team, was president of his fraternity and graduated as valedictorian.  He went on to become one of the most well-known and influential peace activists in the United States, and worked for many years as the executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an interfaith pacifist organization.  He spoke out against the nation’s involvement in every war from World War I through the Vietnam War.  Also a labor organizer, he led the Brookwood Labor College in Katonah, New York, where he worked with W.E.B. DuBois to aid African American students.

The first in a series planned to highlight Muste’s work, “A.J. Muste: Radical for Peace/Finding True North” covers Muste’s origins through the 1930s, and features archival images and draws on interviews conducted with biographers and people who knew and worked with him.  The interviews were conducted by Schock, who is a former member of the college’s communication and English faculty, and Dr. Kathleen Verduin, a professor of English who chairs the committee that organizes the college’s annual A.J. Muste Memorial Lecture series and was the film’s associate producer.  The film premiered at Hope in April. 

The Historical Society of Michigan is the state’s official historical society and the state’s oldest cultural organization, founded in 1828 by territorial governor Lewis Cass and explorer Henry Schoolcraft.  A nongovernmental nonprofit, the society focuses on publications, conferences, education, awards and recognition programming, and support for local history organizations to preserve and promote Michigan’s history.

The Michigan History Conference explores significant people, places and events in Michigan’s past through a diverse offering of keynote speakers, breakout sessions, workshops and tours.  Each year, the conference moves to a different location to feature the local history of that area and to address notable statewide historical matters.  More information about this year’s conference is available online.